WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department today announced a settlement agreement with the District of Columbia regarding pregnancy-related discrimination in the District’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (FEMSD). The complaint alleged that individuals seeking employment as emergency medical technicians with the FEMSD were required to undergo a pre-hiring pregnancy test, with subsequent employment offers contingent on a negative test result. The complaint further alleged that, once hired, emergency medical technicians were advised by FEMSD management that any technician who became pregnant during her first year of employment would be in jeopardy of losing her job.
“Using pregnancy as a barrier to a woman’s entry into the workplace and continued job security is illegal and inexcusable,” said Bradley J. Schlozman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Forcing women to choose between their baby and their job clearly contravenes federal law and will not be tolerated by this Administration.”
The three plaintiffs, all known as Jane Does, are emergency medical technicians employed by the D.C. Fire Department. The District required the plaintiffs, along with all other female applicants, to take a pregnancy test and obtain a negative result as a condition of employment. The plaintiffs tested negative for pregnancy and were hired. Upon reporting for duty, the plaintiffs attended a training class where a management official told the women in the class that if they became pregnant during their first year of employment, they were at risk of losing their jobs. Shortly after the training class, each plaintiff discovered she was pregnant. Because they had been threatened with losing their jobs if they became pregnant during the first year of employment, each woman terminated her pregnancy by abortion.
The United States intervened in the case and helped negotiate the three-year agreement, which was approved by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The settlement agreement requires the District to affirm nondiscriminatory employment policies approved by the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, implement training for supervisors on the rights of pregnant employees under Title VII, and regularly provide the United States with information concerning any new civil rights complaints. Additionally, the District agreed to compensate each of the Jane Does in the amount of $101,000 plus attorneys fees.